The Starlight casino remains closed in New Westminster, but a pub attached to it is planning on reopening soon according to the union representing workers.
“I am happy to share the news with you that your employer has received approval to reopen the Match Eatery & Public House,” said Dave MacDonald, BCGEU Vice President, Component 17, in an email to worker supplied to the Record. “They will be opening for dine-in, takeout and delivery service starting the week of March 15th. While this is not an indication that the casinos will be opening up anytime soon, it is a positive step in the right direction to getting people back to work.”
Employees were told in the email that the employer will be reaching out to them shortly in line with the return to work protocol that has been negotiated. “We expect that those who are called back to work will receive updated health and safety training as well an orientation on the new protocols for re-opening,” said MacDonald.
It's been 353 days since casinos in B.C. were allowed to operate.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered all gaming operations to shut down at midnight on Monday, March 16 last year as part of a wide-reaching shutdown of some business sectors to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Nearly a year later, operators have no idea when they may be allowed to reopen the doors again.
Stewart Groumoutis, director of eGaming operations with the BC Lottery Corporation, says they are working with casino operators, WorkSafeBC and the provincial health officer to determine what a reopening would look like, but adds there is no firm time frame.
"It's a complex consideration for what that looks like for reopening. We are in constant contact, and we can say that the conversations are very positive. Everybody recognizes this is something we all collectively want to happen," said Groumoutis.
He says casino operators went through an extensive retrofit, such as moving slot machines around, or closing off machines in order to create a social distancing space.
- With additional reporting by Wayne Moore, Castanet